Two brides and two grooms celebrated Valentine’s Day with a symbolic walk down the aisle in the Shepherd Union Atrium. The brides joined hands not with the grooms, but with each other, as did the two men.
Thomas Alberts, a member of the Diversity Board and the “Stop the Hate” chair at Weber State University, coordinated the event, inviting students from WSU’s Gay-S
traight Alliance to act as the couples in a staged wedding ceremony. Kelsey Capoferri, WSU’s GSA president and a creative writing junior, and Karlee Berezay, a sociology junior, were the brides, with anthropology junior Colten Marshall and radiology junior Cody Windsor as the grooms. The ceremony started at noon in front of a packed Atrium, followed by a panel discussion in the Center for Diversity and Unity that ran until 1 p.m.
“While not an official ceremony today, we are at a time in history where it is looking more and more possible for marriages to happen for all people who love each other,” said Adrienne Gillespie, coordinator of the center. “That is a pretty amazing thing from my perspective.”
When the couples kissed after exchanging the traditional vows, the crowd clapped and cheered, a reaction Windsor said he hadn’t expected. WSU police were on hand in case of aggressive protests, but the assembled students responded positively.
“I was not expecting, you know, applause and so many happy people!” Windsor said. “I was expecting more of a ‘Strange. All right, I can work with that.’ But to see so many happy people, applause and cheering, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ It really made the whole event much better.”
The discussion panel consisted of the “married couples” and Gillespie. Before opening up the discussion to the audience, the panelists all shared what marriage means to them.
“I don’t think that marriage has to do with religion anymore; I think it has to do with love,” Capoferri said. “. . . All that matters is that you consider yourself husband and wife, or wife and wife, or husband and husband, or whatever you want to call it.”
Gillespie said she thought the topic of same-sex marriage is particularly relevant during Black History Month, given that black slaves in the U.S. weren’t allowed to marry and started their own traditions for it. She also cited the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage.
“One reason that might be particularly important to me is my boyfriend is Caucasian, and we talk about marriage — at least one day we will get married, and to know that there had been a law at one time that would have said that we could not marry is shocking and disheartening,” she said. “To know that there is a law today, to think that it is illegal or unrecognizable for people to love each other, to be married, is still shocking to me.”
Caitlin Leek, a nursing freshman who attended, said she thought the panelists handled the subject matter maturely.
“They’re calm, and they state their opinion without being mean to straight people,” she said. “. . . I thought it was fun to listen and watch, get their point of view . . . and to listen to them talk about how they feel about the matter, learn some new things.”
Though the students who participated are not actually in romantic relationships with each other, Marshall emphasized the symbolic significance of the staged wedding.
“I feel like it could be, in a sense, not necessarily between the two of us, but . . . symbolic to the fact that maybe in the future I can do this with somebody,” he said.
Capoferri added that its purpose was also to encourage pride among LGBT students.
“It’s not necessarily that me and Karlee are married; it’s just the fact that it can happen, and we just wanted to show people that, if we’re brave enough to do it, then you can as well. I just think that’s what it’s really about.”
Editor’s note: Thomas Alberts is employed with The Signpost as assistant managing editor.